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Alpha Technical Services.

PROCESS SYSTEMS FOR THE FOOD INDUSTRY

The Company

Alpha Technical Services Ltd have been concerned with the design and supply of systems for the food industry since 1974 when the company was founded by the present joint managing directors Bob Maynard and Les Sharp. Currently approximately 52 percent of company turnover is derived directly from the food industry or from food related projects.

From the beginning the Company specialised in the difficult and technically complex aspects of products handling with the emphasis on processing with minimal shearing or thinning, sustained levels of accuracy in dosing, metering and proportioning, optimum standards of hygiene and guaranteed results within precisely defined process parameters.

Wastes and Effluents

In addition to the process side of food production, Alpha are also extensively involved in the treatment of food industry effluents and wastes and in the handling of raw ingredients.

Based in Greenford, Middlesex, the company provides a comprehensive service, founded on empirically-based product handling expertise, ranging from initial consultancy, through computer-aided design and process simulation, to engineering, supply, installation, commissioning and service.

Quality Assurance

Alpha are Lloyds Quality Assured to ISO 9002 and are founder members of the Pump Distributors Association of Great Britain.

The Products

Many of the systems supplied by the company have at their heart one or other of the two pump designs with which the name Alpha Technical Services is most closely associated - the Waukesha circumferential piston pump and the Bredel heavy duty, high pressure peristaltic pump.

Waukesha

Long established in the food industry, the Waukesha circumferential piston pump is used primarily for the more demanding applications. Typically, these involve delicate particulates, such as whole and diced fruit, cheese curd, crystalline and filamentous products, structurally complex media such as yoghurt, thixotropic additives and essences, etc, which must be processed without thinning. Others include highly abrasive products, such as chocolate and frozen ice cream, and applications requiring highly accurate, pulsation-free flow unaffected by viscosity variations or changes in the characteristics of the pumped media.

Features of the Waukesha design are the ability to maintain performance irrespective of whether the pumped products are highly viscous, eg, heavy batters, pastes, etc, or thin liquids at high temperatures - especially important when switching from handling product to CIP fluids - or whether the process involves pumping from a vacuum. Similarly important to the process engineer is that the capabilities of the pump can be 'stretched' to cope with intermittent pressure surges, high torque loadings and elevated temperatures.

The design is also produced in fully aseptic form and currently Waukesha Universal Series pumps are manufactured for capacities up to 105 cu m per hr, pressures up to 20 bar and viscosities up to beyond 1,000,000 cPs.

Bredel Peristaltic Pumps

Much has changed since the days when a peristaltic or hose pump was rarely seen outside a laboratory or hospital. Alpha were instrumental in introducing the heavy duty peristaltic pump with reinforced hose to the UK market and Bredel pumps are now used in virtually every sector of industry.

Enhancing the gentle pumping action inherent in the peristaltic concept, the composite hose element with resilient inner core and reinforced outer covering enables both delicate particulate and abrasive media to be handled at pressures up to 15 bar, while the high standard of volumetric accuracy attainable facilitates use of the pump for dosing and metering.

With no other components, the pumped product remains enclosed within the hose throughout the entire cycle, while the absence of seals or glands precludes risk of leakage or atmospheric contamination.

CIP Variant

Particularly important for the food industry is a modified version of the Bredel pump designed specifically for cleaning in place. In most peristaltic pump designs the flow of cleaning agents is obstructed by part of the hose remaining compressed when the pump is at rest. In the modified version the compression shoes retract into the rotor enabling CIP fluids to pass freely. This novel automatic retraction feature facilitates incorporation into automated cleaning systems.

Food products currently handled by Bredel pumps included whole, diced and crushed fruit, wine must, chocolate, yeast, sugar syrup, whole shrimps, molasses as well as filter aids and waste from food processing plants.

These pumps are available with hose sizes from 10 to 100mm for outputs up to 60 cu m per hr.

Pumping the Unpumpable

The Doering Power Feeder System is the latest addition to the Alpha range, designed for processing solids and high viscosity products difficult or impossible to handle by conventional means. A patented power driven feed device working in conjunction with stainless steel feed screws forces product into stainless steel augers and out through a cone-shaped extruding head, profiled to suit the individual product and application.

The system can operate as a pump feeder or, fitted with appropriate heads, for portioning, sheeting, texturising, extruding and a variety of other process functions. Typical products processed include frozen butter, meat, dough, burger mix, liquorice, hard cheese and frozen fruit juice.

Precision Gear Pumps

For highly accurate, pulsation-free, dosing of flavourings, colourings, essences and other additives Alpha supply Zenith rotary gear pumps. Using closely meshing gears as small as 25mm diameter, accuracy of 0.1 percent or better is achieved with product viscosities as high as 2,000,000 cPs.

Avoiding Damage/Contamination by Stray Metal

For detecting and removing stray ferrous particles from liquid and powder process lines Alpha supply Cesco magnetic traps. Produced in a variety of configurations suitable for vertical, horizontal or angled mounting, Cesco traps are also available with water jacket for heating or cooling and in a high pressure version for pressures up to 30 bar.

Located upstream, the trap protects machinery and instrumentation from damage by stray metal; where the main objective is the avoidance of contamination of the end-product the trap is mounted immediately in front of the packing line.

Conveying, Screening and Dewatering

For handling raw ingredients - fruit, vegetables, granular products, etc - as well as for dealing with wastes, Alpha Technical Services offer an extensive range of conveyors, dewatering presses, static and vibrating screens and screw separators for removing small, fast settling solids from liquids.

These screw conveyors are designed without a central shaft, to eliminate risk of blockage by fibrous matter and problems with intermediate bearings. For continuous dewatering a spring-tensioned hinged end is added to the conveyor to compact and squeeze screenings,

Screening

Capable of handling large volumes in continuous operation, screens are designed for separating solids from process and waste flows. Vibrating screens minimise adhesion of greasy and fibrous media. Rotary models, for in-line mounting with internal or external feed arrangement, incorporate spray cleaning and powerful back wash action.

Metablend

Alpha produce considerable numbers of purpose-built packaged systems. Typical of these is the microprocessor-controlled Metablend System. Of modular construction and originally conceived for fruit yoghurt production, this is designed for the simultaneously metering and blending of two or more product streams. Each module consists of two Waukesha pumps with variable speed servo drives and a low shear dynamic mixer. A typical installation consists of six two-pump modules, each handling a different whole fruit or puree additive/yoghurt combination feeding to a packaging machine. The system operates in three modes - production, purge for use when changing recipes and CIP. The use of synchronously controlled Waukesha circumferential piston pumps ensures that correct dosing rates are maintained at all times, yoghurt base is not thinned during processing and fruit particulate is handled without damage.

All Alpha Technical Services products have the backing of extensive spares stocks and comprehensive fabrication and repair facilities as well as contract maintenance schemes tailored to individual user requirements.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Food Trade Press Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Alpha Technical Services Ltd.
Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Sep 1, 1993
Words:1263
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